Business Lessons You Can Learn From Professional Basketball – Dennis Hung

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Professional basketball, especially the NBA, can offer a lot of things to a lot of people. It can entertain or inspire, but there’s more to be learned from professional basketball than what’s apparent at face value. Basketball can also offer business lessons, especially in regards to leadership. Listed below are three examples of leadership lessons that may come from basketball, but can apply just as easily to business.

Connecting With The Community

 In recent Utah Jazz news, star guard Donovan MItchell made headlines by writing Lauren McClusky’s name on the shoes he wore in a game against Houston. McClusky, a student athlete at the University of Utah, had recently been shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend. When Mitchell wrote McClusky’s name on his shoes, he was showing his support for her family and the community that she came from. The move was greeted with widespread appreciation from the community.

Mitchell isn’t from Utah, and it would be easy for him to feel no real connection to the state where his team is based. Instead, through this and several other actions – including visiting schools and even making an unexpected appearance at a family BBQ – he has made it clear that he appreciates the people and the place where he is right now. A business, like a professional basketball team, occupies a position of respect in the community. Even if you or your business are a transplant to the area, you honor your leadership position and earn respect by investing in your community. Instead of being a faceless corporation, your business can become a treasured part of the community.


The connection between leadership and teamwork might not seem immediately obvious. Leadership is always portrayed as being something for a single person to undertake, while teamwork means a group of people working together. This idea often isn’t the case, however. Every member of a group can be a leader if they understand their place within the team, and the importance of working as a group.

First, a leader within a group understands the value of everyone on his or her team, and how to best use those people’s strengths. This means also understanding your own place on the team, and knowing when to step back and let others take center stage. This is a key aspect of basketball, and the most functional teams understand when to step back, when to pass, and when to shoot. In business, the same principles apply, even if that be a team of marketers rather than NBA players. It’s all part of working as a team, and understanding every player’s place within it.


In basketball, the pressure to succeed is obvious. All eyes are on professional basketball players, and they harder they play, the more fame and glory they can achieve. Beyond that, there’s the infamous locker-room speeches that are so common in inspirational movies, and the desire to support your team. Inspiration and a drive to succeed is a very important element in basketball. In a business, the drive might not be quite as strong or obvious, but it’s equally important. As a leader, a basketball player needs to keep their own drive strong, while also doing what they can to inspire the drive within their teammates.

A business is no different. To be a true leader, each member within a business needs to keep their own drive strong and help give other team members a reason to dig deep and work hard. The entire team–be it a literal NBA team or a business unit–will benefit when the team has a strong drive to succeed. A leader, on or off the court, will connect with the people around him, know how to work as a team, and inspire his or team to work hard and move forward.